During our RV adventures across the Western U.S., my wife and I may go weeks without staying in a conventional campground with hookups. Dispersed camping in the boondocks is our preferred place to camp. It’s quiet, typically close to the places we want to explore, and the price is right.
While there many ways to save water when dry camping, sooner or later we need to fill up our fresh water tank. A lot of the times we fill our tank at the common and convenient locations, while other times we have been surprised by where we were able to find fresh water for dry camping.
1. Fuel stations
These are one of the most common places for us to find fresh water for dry camping. So, places like Pilot, Flying J, Travel America, and others will typically have a fresh water spigot available. But, if one is not readily available, just ask.
As a result, we find that most attendants will make an effort to meet your request. Additionally, on occasion, many mini-markets will have a janitor sink in the back where, with the attendant’s help, run your hose through the back door to the sink.
2. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service ranger stations
These areas typically have a faucet available for hikers and campers. Actually, the BLM station in remote Hanksville, Utah, has a very accessible faucet in the back that we have used on several occasions.
3. Rest stops
Many, especially those with dump stations, will often have a faucet for public use
4. Dump stations
Most have potable water available. Some are free, others have a fee.
5. National Parks
Sometimes water spigots are at the visitors center. If not, simply ask and a ranger will likely direct you to one. Even if you are not staying the night, most national park campgrounds will let you pull in and take on water. After all, you did pay the entrance fee to be in the park.
6. City, County, and State Parks
Water spigots are throughout these parks. While you always have to be cautious it’s potable water—and not for irrigation purposes—non-potable water spigots are typically labeled.
7. Any business you patronize
Don’t be afraid to ask after you have purchased propane, groceries or other products. In fact, we once filled up at a restaurant, another time at an Office Depot.
There are numerous passages in the Bible about thirst and water (John 7:37 for example). Stop by a church and ask the pastor or office staff if they would be kind enough to provide water to a stranger. You won’t be turned down.
How to successfully obtain water:
- Carry a Water Bandit or similar product. These allow an easy connecting to a non-threaded spigot.
- When asking for water, mention, “I am RVing, do you mind if I take on some water?” If you tell someone you need gallons they may think twice.
- Also, carry an extra length of water hose (or two) to reach those out of the way faucets.
- To ensure clean, safe drinking water for RVing, perhaps invest in an in-line water filter for your RV that can remove most contaminants and bacteria.
- Finally, use common courtesy and don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you!”